Mile High Comics' flagship store is home to the usual players in the comic-book universe: Marvel, DC, Dark Horse. But there's so much more to Mile High, a twelve-year-old-boy's wet dream of a store. Rows of glass cases in the 11,000-square-foot space hold Aliens, Iron Maiden and Futurama figurines while the shelves and walls are lined with graphic novels, manga and movie posters. Three days a week, guys come ready to role-play during epic tournaments of the popular game of Magic. Males dominate the clientele, but female sci-fi goddesses are also in the house, albeit in fictional form: Posters and paraphernalia honoring Agent Scully, Xena and Queen Amidala are abundant. C'mon, get geeky.
Science may never fully explain why certain women go gaga for the simplest things -- a slender notebook from China, say, or a small, distressed-looking birdhouse. A cornucopia of feminine kitsch, Miss Talulah's is such a woman's treasure trove -- a fun, arty adventure of a store in the burgeoning Ballpark neighborhood. Handmade soaps, folk-art chandeliers, vintage poster art from the Orient and handmade pillows are scattered among the nooks and crannies of the small shop; many of the display pieces are for sale, too. It's a dense, dainty place for the girl who has everything...but still really needs a set of antique beaded candlestick holders.
We love supporting local designers, but even better is supporting local designers whose wares are cute enough to make the pages of top fashion magazines. Nicole Beckett started the Agogo Threads line out of her parents' house in Golden, and last spring, she opened her first boutique, Agogo Star, in Boulder. Now Maya, Beyoncé and other celebs are wearing her vintage-styled dresses, skirts and halters in the pages of Cosmopolitan, Teen People and Bust. The Fairy Dust Frock and Petal Skirt With Crepe Tie-Front Top are sure to be killers for spring.
Sweet Utopia is an anomaly in the 21st century -- a store dedicated solely to relaxation and romance. Barbara Lynn Trattler's north Denver hole-in-the-wall is a sensual curio, draped and dotted with little luxuries to help heighten the senses. Here you'll find hand-dyed and beaded slip dresses, jingly Egyptian hip scarves, cut-flower stems, treasure boxes and lip-shaped truffles. Trattler also assembles hand-packaged Erotiberry gift baskets, which can include everything from massage oil and chocolates to champagne and flowers. You can't buy love, but at Sweet Utopia, it's fun to try.
East meets West at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where students practice the art of sticking it to the public. Every Saturday, the school opens as an acupuncture clinic. Supervised by physicians and others who've completed the school's intensive Chinese-medicine program, the clinics help pupils fine-tune the arts of relieving pain and stress and treating disease by stimulating specific pressure points in the body. Even the needlephobe will have a hard time overlooking the deal: Sessions are $25, roughly half of what 'puncture fans pay at salons and clinics around town. Just...hold...still.
Okay, so nobody actually gets knocked up at Comfort & Joy, but Joy Hewitt-Kind has made helping women conceive the specialty of her acupuncture practice. She'd been treating basic pains, illnesses and stress until a few years ago, when a client came to her after having repeated miscarriages. Kind intervened, and the woman came down with twins. No guarantees (thankfully!) that she can work the same magic for everyone -- but she's also been known to clear a migraine. And her touch is so gentle that most patients fall asleep before she's even done placing the needles.
Real Baby
You don't have to set fashion aside just because you're having a baby. Haven't you heard that pregnancy is the new black? Or was that last year? In any case, "It" moms and moms-to-be Reese, Sarah Jessica and Gwyneth have proven that it's possible to set trends even as the belly balloons. Denver moms can do the same at Real Baby, a Highland store that stocks lace dresses and bags so hip you'd never guess they were designed to hold diapers. And there's no reason Baby can't turn heads, too. With tiny Aloha shirts, Kenneth Cole sneakers and sequined flip-flops, your young one can follow in your stylish footsteps -- just as soon as he or she can walk.
Twist & Shout
Ken Hamblin III
Screw Baby Gap. Real rock-and-roll parents will appreciate the duds coming out of Denver's most venerated house of music. There are no pink bunnies or fluffy booties here; the kid will be clamoring for the skull-emblazoned tanks (size infant and up) and other similarly goth creations. Do it for the children, man.
Are there really as many babies out there as there are new shops catering to them? Must be. Such businesses are multiplying like rabbits as baby boomers' kids create a baby boom of their own. And even though one place looks as cute as the next, Studio Bini stands out for a number of reasons, including its location on Tennyson Street, an urban stretch that's found new life in the past few years. The tiny boutique is also a showcase for its owners, local children's-clothing designer Linde Schlumbohm and artist Sandy Brudos. Bini overflows with cute: tie-dyed velvet dresses, miniature high-top sneakers, lace-trimmed poodle skirts, vintage cowboy prints, puffy swing coats and Kandinsky-esque '50s-style Brubeck shirts for stylin' tykes. We'll take five!
European babes have been snoozing in these things for years, but they're a relatively new idea for naptime over here. The Angel's Nest is really just a sleeping bag for tots, but there's some deep-sleep thinking behind the concept. The bags are safer and more reliable than tangly, loose bedding, and they're soft as a cloud and impossible to shake off. Denverite Jennifer Zinn so loved one sent to her by a sister in France that she hatched a plan to market her own, in two styles. Through her website, Zinn offers a standard "sleeping bag," for babies still sleeping exclusively on their backs, and a "wearable bag" -- sort of a closed romper with no legs for little ones old enough to roll around. The Nests come in a variety of cushy materials and seasonal weights. Rock-a-bye, baby.

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